CONTACT US Wed Nov. 13, 2013

CASS 中國社會科學網(中文) Fran?ais


Independent innovation and applications for holographic technology

Author  :  ZHANG MENG     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2023-01-04

The report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China explicitly stated that China needs to accelerate the development of “Digital China” and the digital economy, and “further integrate the digital economy with the real economy and build internationally competitive digital industry clusters. We will build a modern infrastructure system with a better layout and structure, more effective functions, and greater system integration.”

As the metaverse booms, the innovative application of digital technology has become a key channel for developing modernized and cultural industries. Holographic technology is a core technology for creating a digital society, and is therefore more deserving of independent technological innovation and applications.

Tool for extending culture

Two important features of the holographic industry will allow it to fuel the digital spread of China’s traditional culture and national culture, while extending digital life.

The first feature is its strong ability to recreate reality. Holographic technology is different from virtual reality (VR) in that holographs excel at bringng virtual beings into reality through projection. Specifically, this is done via a three-dimensional recording of the light reflected off an original scene or object, as the light scatters in a range of directions. This allows a scene to be viewed from a range of different angles, as one would view objects in reality. This technology has many innate advantages in reproducing reality, improving customer reach, and integrating VR and reality. This makes the creation of a “digital twin” possible for both objects and humans.

The second feature of holographic technology is that its content is controllable. The technology can be used to reproduce historic sites, cultural relics, heroes, and “red classics.” The technology makes dialogue possible across time, as stunning visuals bring unique audience experiences. In contrast to using disorderly independent media channels, all sections of a holographic presentation are under centralized control, including planning, presentation, experience, and interaction. This makes data protection and privacy protection easier to manage.

Since 2021, the metaverse has become the new “battlefield” for technological competition among countries. Therefore, independent innovation of holographic technology has become an inevitable choice for China as the country strives to enhance its “digital discourse.” In contrast to the traditional internet, the metaverse represents a next generation network chased by global capital. The metaverse is a two-sided hybrid world that includes both an artificial virtual space parallel to the real world, and the actualization of virtual images. The first tier of technology in the metaverse’s technological system involves holographic construction and holographic emulation. This is the first step towards building a person’s “avatar.” Only when virtual imaging is done can we then integrate virtual and actual reality.

In comparison to AR and VR, holographic technology is technologically unrivaled at integrating the virtual and the real. It exists without a wearable device and allows you to observe images with the naked eye. This compliments the general trend of medium-free visual technological imaging, and explains why internet companies like Google and Microsoft have begun to develop holography. Holography is a sector that China cannot afford to overlook. It is our inevitable choice for control of the next-generation internet, and the key to gaining a firm foothold in global competition, and holding digital discourse power.

Currently, the cost of implementing holographic technology is moderate. In addition, holography can be applied in various consumption and experience scenarios, including media, education, culture, tourism, games, and e-commerce. Its application can help China to build new digital business models.

There are many types of holographic display devices. Their main components include optical configurations, imaging devices, control systems, and the physical structure. The costs for different sets of holographic projectors may vary from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of yuan depending on their size and content. Once built, they can be reused. Due to moderate upfront costs the technology can be popularized on a large scale.

Application scenarios for holographic technology vary from convergence media centers in counties, museums, cultural and entertainment venues, to commercial advertisements. The technology breaks the limit of time, space, and human endurance to work wonders while interacting with audiences. For example, a convergence media center rolled out a “holographic Peking opera,” combining traditional Peking opera performances with holography to cater to young people’s taste, eventually fueling digital consumption in China.

Higher dimension of innovation

Having accumulated about five years of experience, China’s holographic industry is gradually forming. This can be seen in the continuous rise of human and capital input in the industry. However, enterprises in the field are yet small and unconsolidated. None are particularly strong, nor do they have substantial brand impact or strong independent innovation.

Statistics show that the market size of China’s holographic industry was 9.336 billion yuan in 2019, which was still weak when compared to the market sizes of short videos and AI, both of which are worth over hundreds of billions. More importantly, due to a lack of benchmark leading enterprises and industrial standards, China’s holographic industry remains in a state of disorderly competition. Many enterprises compete for market shares through pricing strategies, resulting in shoddy products. Consequently, independent innovation at such enterprises is greatly restricted due to wasted R&D efforts.

“Virtual holography plus real people and real objects” is a potential cultural symbol that is highly identifiable, traffic-generating, and realizable. When combined with XR, AI, Blockchain, big data, cloud computing, and other emerging technologies, holography can become a tool for accelerating the development of cultural industries.

Unfortunately, as of today, this path is still blocked, because holographic images involve real people and real objects, and therefore involves intellectual property, copyrights, and performance rights. This makes accessibility to real people and real objects (such as celebrities and cultural relics) a tricky issue, thus it remains rare for real people and objects to be grafted into virtual holography.

Nowadays, holographic technology offers a higher dimension innovation space for mainstream media. A transition from 2D to 3D displays generates brand new and attractive viewing experiences for users, who can now touch the formerly “inaccessible reality.” This makes holographic technology a practical solution to enhancing mainstream media’s core competitiveness and digital outreach.

The technology is yet at its early stages in terms of mainstream media application. And the existing applications are limited to superficial projection. Institutions in the industry have yet to find effective ways to apply holography to engage and interact with users when making use of local cultural resources.

Combining content production

To support and promote holographic technology, the government has been initiating pilot schemes, supporting model enterprises, and encouraging companies to conduct technological development and iteration. Technological enterprises are the explorers and main players in frontier areas, therefore deserve more national input. In particular, the government needs to increase policy and financial support for technological enterprises related to AI, holographic technology, and virtual simulation. Pilot schemes launched by related government departments can foster a sound market environment by popularizing new technologies.

In the meantime, the government can also improve policies and the service systems to increase the number of companies, including companies listed in the field. By providing financial assistance and helping to mitigate risks, the government can foster representative sample enterprises, while establishing industrial standards and rules to facilitate orderly competition. Bank loans and financing through stock rights can help ease financial burdens on enterprises. With adequate encouragement and support, companies can fully engage in technological innovation, and eventually bring out core independent innovative technologies. The ultimate goal behind developing core technology is for China to grasp the initiative in technological competition over the metaverse, to enhance China’s cultural impact globally.

Therefore, it is necessary to streamline the relationship between protecting and leveraging cultural resources, build a cooperation platform, and provide new incentives for enterprises to innovate. Cultural resources are intangible assets that drive the high-quality development of various cultural areas. Yet, culture should not be put on a pedestal. To promote new technologies’ wide application in cultural industry, related departments should formulate supporting policies, establish resource libraries or digital trading platforms for cultural IPs. In this case, technological enterprises and the owners of cultural IPs are the main recipients of the services, through which both sides’ demands can be fulfilled. It is also necessary for technological enterprises to start working with scientific research institutions and cultural institutions. Through jointly conducted R&D in exhibiting cultural relics and bringing out cultural products, the two can facilitate industry-university-research cooperation and advance scientific principles.

It is also important to apply holography in mainstream media. Broad application is an important way for enterprises to upgrade technologically. To access independent and controllable core holographic technology, it is necessary to ensure its wide application and promotion, while helping enterprises upgrade their independent innovative strength.

Mainstream media has a large demand for holographic technology, especially convergence media centers. These media centers are an important bond linking the Party and the people, urban and rural areas, workers and farmers. Media centers should fully leverage the advantages of holography, and use the technology’s social functions as public devices. For example, media centers can use 3D presentations to attract user participation, or apply holographic technology in content production and proliferation, while introducing local resource features such as local celebrities, cultural relics, and cultural heritage. They can also generate local cultural products through creative use of holography. In addition, more attention should be paid to enhancing holography’s interactivity, so that users can fully immerse themselves in virtual spaces to enjoy augmented user experiences.


Zhang Meng is from the Institute of Journalism and Communication, at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Editor: Yu Hui

>> View All

Ye Shengtao made Chinese fairy tales from a wilderness

Ye Shengtao (1894–1988) created the first collection of fairy tales in the history of Chinese children’s literature...

>> View All